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       Amitai Etzioni| BIO

The Hundred Hour Bull
Posted April 9, 2007 | 04:21 PM (EST)


Read More: Breaking Politics News, U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Democratic
Party, U.S. Congress, U.S. Senate, Nancy Pelosi, George W. Bush, Brendan Daly, Robert
Novak, U.S. Republican Party, White House

The Democrats claim that they lived up to their campaign promise and enacted six major
bills in their first 100 hours in office. The actual number is a fat, round, zero. None of the
bills the Democrats are touting so far have made it into law and four of the six have been
approved only by the House. As every school child who passed civics knows (but
important parts of the media somehow ignored), to become a law the Senate must act as
well and the president must append his signature. So far, as we are moving to 100 days of
the new Democratic regime, not one of these six bills has completed that passage. Indeed,
several of them may well not become the law of the land at least during this Congress.

During the 2006 elections campaign Democrats treated the House and Congress as if they
were synonymous and the president's veto power was barely mentioned. Typically, on
election day Nancy Pelosi stated, "If you honor Democratic candidates with your vote
today, in the first hundred hours of a Democratic Congress: We will restore civility,
integrity, and fiscal responsibility to the House of Representatives. We will start by
cleaning up Congress..."

After the elections, the New York Times reported that the "House Democrats intend to
kick off their new regime with a 100-hour legislative blitz that would allow them to post
a series of quick victories before President Bush even delivers his State of the Union
address toward the end of this month. 'These are deliverable,' Brendan Daly, a spokesman
for the incoming House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, said of the 100-hour topics. 'These are
things we said we would do if we are in charge and would make a direct impact on
Americans' lives.'"

Soon we were told mission accomplished. Writing about a "new direction for all
Americans," Nancy Pelosi claimed that, "From national security to economic security,
our first 100 hours met the urgent priorities of the American people, turning our promises
into reality...."

Even conservative columnist Robert Novak was at least temporarily swayed, reporting
that "The 'hundred hours' program of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has been a
success beyond all anticipation..." Some even crowed that the Democratic revolution took
less than 100 hours. "After 42 Hours (or So), House Democrats Complete 100-Hour
Push," according to a New York Times headline. House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer
stated, "[Republicans] can make fun of it...But they cannot make fun of the fact that for
the first time in 10 years, we have raised the minimum wage." Well not so fast.

Actually, while the fate of each of the six bills Democrats passed in the House as part of
their 'new America' is somewhat different, all, at this stage, are neither laws nor public
policies.

H.R. 1: to lead to the implementation of the 9/11 Commission recommendations. The
Senate has passed a version of this bill and negotiations to reconcile the House and
Senate versions are underway. But reconciliation of the two bills is likely to prove a moot
point. This measure faces a veto from the White House. As thirty five senators --enough
to block a veto override-- signed a letter concurring with the Bush administration position
opposing the bill.

H.R. 2: sought to raises the minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $7.25 per hour over
two years. The Senate version of the minimum wage increase includes tax cuts for small
businesses. Negotiations to reconcile the House and Senate bills are underway. This bill
is the one that may actually make it.

H.R. 3: The House voted to increases the number of stem cell lines available for federally
funded research. Like other budgetary items it requires Senate action, which has not
taken place. Anyhow the president is very likely to veto this bill.

H.R. 4: The House "required" the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate
with drug companies for lower prices for Medicare patients' drugs. However, the House
alone cannot require the Secretary of HHS to do much of anything and the Senate has not
passed such a requirement.

H.R. 5: The House voted to reduces the interest rate for subsidized federal student college
loans from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent over five years. No Senate action; no interest
reduction.

H.R. 6: The same holds for the House vote to reverses oil and gas royalty reductions and
devotes the money to promotion of renewable energy sources.

Thus when the New York Times reports (on April 7) about the marvel of the "many bills
that passed in Congress's first 100 days" more than a technical error is at issue; a House
not a Congress makes. At issue is the difference between bills that change the laws of the
land and public policies--and those that do nothing of the sort. Some of the bills the
Democrats passed in the House may indeed one day have such an effect. For now they,
arguably, are indications of good intentions, but little more.
It matters little if one favors or opposes some or all of these bills. One still seeks truth in
advertising. It is unnecessarily confusing to the public to claim victory where none was
achieved, organizing celebratory parades where there is nothing to march about. It even
does not matter here whether one is a Republican or Democrat; in either case one can
recognize that if we are to have a workable government, the parties must pursue policies
that can gain majority support in both houses and the president's approval. Otherwise
they are merely out to score political points, which have the half-life of yesterday's
newspaper.


Comments (23)
     AlanS (See profile | I'm a fan of AlanS)
Etzioni joins David Broder in yearning for bipartisanship. Like Broder, he didn't seem
concerned about bipartisanship when republicans held all the power. And I used to think
communitarianism meant something.
| posted 04:36 pm on 04/09/2007

   blackjackjackson (See profile | I'm a fan of
blackjackjackson)
What do you mean nothing has happened?
Oh Puleeeezzze....don't you remember?
Pelosi took impeachment off the table.
Pelosi took impeachment off the table.
I voted for impeachment, I didn't vote for minimum wage, stem cells, college loans.
I did vote for the 9/11 commission leading to IMPEACHMENT.

She keeps it off the table, and will probably never ever put it back on the table. What the
hell is wrong with all of you dem celebrators...Impeachment is all the bushtard-bunker
mentality can stand. We have to set a fire and burn them out.

but, remember,
PELOSI TOOK IMPEACHMENT OFF THE TABLE.
| posted 04:46 pm on 04/09/2007

     Larenzo (See profile | I'm a fan of Larenzo)
It is a fact that the bills have not passed the senate. So does that mean that the house
should not try to do the right things, to get this nation of a different track rather than
dubya's, which is leading to constitutional and economic disaster?

So, instead, your job should be to chastise the senate for not taking care of business.
| posted 06:11 pm on 04/09/2007

     Larenzo (See profile | I'm a fan of Larenzo)
It is a fact that the bills have not passed the senate. So does that mean that the house
should not try to do the right things, to get this nation of a different track rather than
dubya's, which is leading to constitutional and economic disaster?

So, instead, your job should be to chastise the senate for not taking care of business.
| posted 06:11 pm on 04/09/2007

     Larenzo (See profile | I'm a fan of Larenzo)
It is a fact that the bills have not passed the senate. So does that mean that the house
should not try to do the right things, to get this nation of a different track rather than
dubya's, which is leading to constitutional and economic disaster?

So, instead, your job should be to chastise the senate for not taking care of business.
| posted 06:11 pm on 04/09/2007

     goodart (See profile | I'm a fan of goodart)
I want to thank you for your review of the Congressional session, bill-wise, so far.
Frankly I had been wondering about this exact matter lately and I wasn't real sure who to
ask.

Personally there is absolutely no surprise to me regarding how Congress has gone. I knew
they were posers, looking for symbolic victories and investigative panels out the wazoo.
Having spent the majority of my life under Democratic congresses, this is their modus
operandi.

Case in point - the Civil Rights Act of 1964. For reasons beyond me the African-
American community have remained staunch Democrats. But this was a bipartisan bill
that could absolutely not have been passed with Democratic votes alone. Percentage-wise
the Civil Rights Act received more Republican votes than Democratic!

The original House version:

Democratic Party: 153-96 (61%-39%)
Republican Party: 138-34 (79%-21%)

The Senate version:

Democratic Party: 46-22 (68%-32%)
Republican Party: 27-6 (82%-18%)
The Senate version, voted on by the House:

Democratic Party: 153-91 (63%-37%)
Republican Party: 136-35 (80%-20%)

Democrats are posers looking to get credit where credit is not necessarily due.
| posted 06:22 pm on 04/09/2007

     Synoia (See profile | I'm a fan of Synoia)
It even does not matter here whether one is a Republican or Democrat; in either case one
can recognize that if we are to have a workable government, the parties must pursue
policies that can gain majority support in both houses and the president's approval.

Perhaps you could list the items that would get approved? I'll make it easy, I'll list the
first two, so suggestions, and you take it to ten?

1. Minimum Wage
2. Immigration and Slave (sorry guest) worker program.
3. Health care?
4. Iraq War?
5. Iran war?
6. Balanced budget?
7. Social Security?
8.
9.
10.

Go for it....
| posted 06:39 pm on 04/09/2007

  ControlledBurn (See profile | I'm a fan of
ControlledBurn)
You are such a tease getting me all nostalgic for the days when all we worried about was
politicians not keeping their campaign promises.
| posted 06:42 pm on 04/09/2007

     kgofsb (See profile | I'm a fan of kgofsb)
I don't know why anybody was expecting anything of substance from the new Congress.
After all, they are still politicians, who mainly care about getting in office and staying
there. But what I was hoping for when they got elected, was that they would put an end to
the elementary school perspective on the world that prevailed when the other party ruled,
and would provide some oversight of the president. At least that has happened, and the
insanity that defined the last six years may have reached its peak.


It would be nice to actually hold the administration and the previous Congress
accountable for all of their mistakes, but as I said, these are politicians. Don't expect too
much from them.

It's sad that I have to be cynical about our government, but they are tragically flawed
humans. They may start out with the best intentions, but almost all of them fall victim to
their positions of perceived power. I say perceived, because they actually have none, or at
least don't project any power, as they accomplish nothing. They don't care about solving
problems, they only want to appear to care about solving problems. I guess those of us
who don't work for the government and hold jobs elsewhere should be happy they are not
our bosses, but they sure are wasting what was once a perfectly good country.
| posted 06:55 pm on 04/09/2007

     bobleblah1 (See profile | I'm a fan of bobleblah1)
A man after my own heart.

I stand in utter disbelief at the ability of the Democratic congress to do nothing.
It truly begs the question: Is doing nothing their real objective?
.
If democrats believe their ideas are the right ones, they have an obligation to fight and see
that they become law.
If they do not believe that their ideas are the right ones, then they are campaign liars not
fit to govern. If they believe their ideas are better but they just don't have the courage to
fight to see them made law, then they are cowards of the worst kind. However you slice it,
it adds up to a party that is not to be trusted.

You see, when democrats have power they talk a big game, then stall. They act as if they
take any initiative and fight hard for it, they will lose the next election. Meanwhile they
move NOTHING.
Republicans on the other hand, will at least fight hard to see their ideas become law. Even
when they have bad ideas, they at least have the strength of conviction to see those bad
ideas enacted.
So we now have a situation where Republicans forever remain the people directing the
society. When republicans have any margin of power, even 1 vote more, they will run
with it and push the country further in their direction regardless of what anyone says.
Republicans enact laws that will take decades if ever to undo. Yes they might be
punished short term, but as far as real power goes it doesn't matter. They have already
succeeded in moving the countries policies further in their direction.

Democrats unfortunately don't even start to undo the damage previous republican
majorities have done. Hence our Republic functions as if democrats don't even exist.
Over the long term, democrat leadership has no bearing on America's future. It will
always be that way because they NEVER have the courage to fight until their own ideas
are made a reality.
| posted 07:02 pm on 04/09/2007

     sundialsvc4 (See profile | I'm a fan of sundialsvc4)
In the grand scheme of things, I believe that the United States Government, and indeed
the United States as a whole, is quickly becoming "irrelevant."

If your government is ruled by "multi-national corporations" then that is precisely what
they are .. multi-national, and therefore not (in any meaningful way) under your
government anyhow.

If your financial affairs are so absurdly bankrupted that you are literally borrowing from
yourself more than $1 million a minute, just to keep your books balanced, then you also
have no real financial relevancy anymore, either.

What America does have right now is the fact that, for the moment at least, Oil is
denominated in Dollars. But that, for the reasons aforementioned, is not going to last.
You are trying to "print oil," and you just can't do that.

America also has tens of thousands of nuclear warheads. But that advantage will vanish
when it USES the next one... which from the sound of things won't be very long now.

What this country lost, in the last six years especially, is trust. Credibility. Confidence.
Being seen as the solution and not the problem. Being seen as a representative democracy
that loves freedom. "If you are not that, then what are you?"

The world, and the world community of human beings, will move right along. Empires
have crumbled before.
| posted 07:49 pm on 04/09/2007

     cplklyde (See profile | I'm a fan of cplklyde)
The Democratic house passed every billthey said they were going to pass. The bills go to
the senate where rethug/ct for LIEberman obstructionism keeps them bottled up. etzioni
then castigates the Democratsbut says nothing about the rethugs. AlanS is right this is the
david broder school of political punditry at it's inside the beltway worst.

what a wanker.
| posted 08:09 pm on 04/09/2007

     economike (See profile | I'm a fan of economike)
Yeah your absolutely right as long as we have an intillectual midget in the white house
the Congress can't do much, but at least they're not rubber stamping his disasterous
policies.
| posted 08:16 pm on 04/09/2007

     realityrules (See profile | I'm a fan of realityrules)
Contrarians, contrarians. Sometimes I think these people would find a hundred dollar bill
and bitch because it's wrinkled.

So you weren't beaten bloody enough during the past six years? Now, after three months
you are convinced that things are not better, will never get better.

Well please next time just vote republican. As bad as it was, it can get much much worse,
and apparently that's what you need.
| posted 08:26 pm on 04/09/2007

     qofdisks (See profile | I'm a fan of qofdisks)
Obviously, more Dems need to take more of the Senate next time around. There is only
ONE Senate vote over the Reps.
It will help when there is a Dem president as well.
The house and Nancy Pelosi have done what they can.
| posted 08:53 pm on 04/09/2007

     HissyPussy (See profile | I'm a fan of HissyPussy)


AMITAI ETIZIONI: ANGRY OLD BULL!

WTF: THIS COLUMN COULDN'T BE MORE ANTI-DEMOCRATIC IF IT HAD
BEEN WRITTEN BY LIMBAUGH HIMSELF!

WAS THIS COLUMN WRITTEN TO INFURIATE ME AND THE MAJORITY OF
THE PUBLIC AT LARGE!

AFTER ALL WE THE MAJORITY DID SUPPORT DEMOCRATS IN THE
NOVEMBER ELECTIONS - AND WE STILL DO!

IT'S NOT EASY FOR THE DEMOCRATS TO UNDUE THE DAMAGE THAT THE
REPUBLICAN-CONTROLLED CONGRESS HAS DONE FOR THE PAST 12 YEARS!

THE NEW DEMOCRATIC MAJORITY HAVE DONE AS THEY PROMISED AND
PURSUED PROGRESSIVE LEGISLATION.
DEMOCRATS HAVE FORCED REPUBLICANS TO GO ON RECORD AND VOTE
ON THESE ISSUES!

WE SEE THAT REPUBLICANS OPPOSE DEMOCRATIC ISSUES WHICH ARE
SUPPORTED BY THE VAST MAJORITY OF THE AMERICAN PUBLIC!

WE SEE THAT BUSH ABUSES HIS POWER AND VETOES ANYTHING THAT
DOES GET PASSED!

DEMOCRATS NEED BIGGER MAJORITIES IN THE HOUSE AND SENATE IN
ORDER TO PASS LEGISLATION WITH ENOUGH VOTES TO OVERRIDE A
PRESIDENTIAL VETO!

REAL CHANGE WON'T HAPPEN UNTIL WE ELECT A DEMOCRATIC
PRESIDENT AND LARGE DEMOCRATIC MAJORITIES IN THE HOUSE AND
SENATE!

DEMOCRATS NEED AND DESERVE OUR SUPPORT MORE THAN EVER
BETWEEN NOW AND 2008!

THE ISSUES ARE:

*THE WAR!

*THE ENVIRONMENT!

*GOOD AFFORDABLE EDUCATION!

*FUNDING OF MEDICAL/STEM CELL RESEARCH!

*UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE!

*AFFORDABLE DRUGS!

*SOCIAL SECURITY!

*FAIR WAGES!

*EQUAL OPPORTUNITY!

*REPRODUCTIVE CHOICE!

REPUBLICAN POLITICIANS ARE OPENLY OPPOSED TO THESE ISSUES!

END THE WAR AND WE CAN FUND ALL THESE DEMOCRATIC INITIATIVES!
| posted 10:21 pm on 04/09/2007

     herrington (See profile | I'm a fan of herrington)
The house and Pelosi have done all that their slim majorities will allow them to do. Take
it for what it is, a statement to the American people of exactly what it is that they intend
to do if given enough seats in the House and Senate. If the agenda of the first hundred
hours is not passed, as it may not be, do not blame the Democrats. To do so is
astonishingly disingenuous in light of knowledge of how our government is designed to
work.

Democrats are NOT the problem and the foot dragging and twiddling with their proposals
is just indicative of the same old Republican agenda. Is it somehow a deficit in the
Democratic party that they cannot convert Republicans to support the Democratic agenda
on the spot, force them by rubbing their noses in their mess to accept the rule of adults?

We are in a winner take all struggle for who controls this country and have done nothing
else since 1980. Nothing, not the Iraq War, not the Cold War, not Cuba nor North Korea
are even close to demanding means and minds of Republicans who were trying to
establish the permanent Republican majority. That nothing is being accomplished now is
just icing on a 25 year old cake. We were purposely divided by political rhetoric when it
served the Republicans and the agenda of their money men to do so. When the day comes
that it does not serve them they will stop, cross the aisle and start doing government. I do
not see that happening any time soon without concerted political action by the governed.

Currently, the Republicans feel that if they frustrate the Democratic initiatives that they
will sour the public on the Democrats. At the same time, they play to their base as being
tough and holding the line against evil (of do-gooders). You, and most of the posters so
far are playing right into their hands.

http://www.mondaymorningeconomist.com/
| posted 10:58 pm on 04/09/2007

     CharlesMac (See profile | I'm a fan of CharlesMac)
I am glad that somebody had the guts to say it out loud.

And as of today, the Dems are about to back out of their measures in the Iraq funding bill.

They are scared to death to own this war, and will let Americans die everyday to avoid
responsibility.

| posted 11:24 pm on 04/09/2007

     CharlesMac (See profile | I'm a fan of CharlesMac)
I am glad that somebody had the guts to say it out loud.

And as of today, the Dems are about to back out of their measures in the Iraq funding bill.

They are scared to death to own this war, and will let Americans die everyday to avoid
responsibility.

| posted 11:24 pm on 04/09/2007

     CharlesMac (See profile | I'm a fan of CharlesMac)
I am glad that somebody had the guts to say it out loud.

And as of today, the Dems are about to back out of their measures in the Iraq funding bill.

They are scared to death to own this war, and will let Americans die everyday to avoid
responsibility.

| posted 11:24 pm on 04/09/2007

     mommadona (See profile | I'm a fan of mommadona)
If you have a problem with the pace, I would suggest a talk with the DLC.

DINO-lite is the blockage.....CorporateWelfareQueens need their "push" money. And it
IS all about Business as Usual. Especially with one of the most profitable wars going on
as we speak....

| posted 01:03 am on 04/10/2007

     laocoon (See profile | I'm a fan of laocoon)
Oh I see. The democrats must always do what the republicans want to do. Very simple
really. the house must pass bills the President wants or they are just posturing. If this is
the system I see no need to pay for congress just let the republicans rule through a central
executive. Save a lot of money really.
| posted 09:18 am on 04/10/2007

     cuddletuffy (See profile | I'm a fan of cuddletuffy)
it was just a ruse. remember, this is a one-party system in effect. there are 2 solutions, one
short term, one long term:

Short Term: Impeach your congressional representatives who do not support your views.
Pelosi, we wanted impeachment and a clearly documented full, (public and private armies,
no military bases left behind), and immediate withdrawal from Iraq. Your ass is grass in
'08 for taking impeachment off the table and continued funding of the war. Make this true
of your local rep too!

2. Long Term Solution - we need a new constitutional convention where we draft and
ratify a more modern and democratic system of representation. The key amendments to
ratify are the elimination of the electoral college and adoption of a parliamentary system
of representation. We must also address the legal status of corporations in such a way that
they cannot exernalize their costs.

Then we need to never, ever, ever again give Washington the kind of power and
financing we have given them for the past 75 years.

After Rome burns this will probably happen. may the destitute of DC be spared.
| posted 03:25 am on 04/21/2007

								
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